Unfinished Art Michelangelo's Tomb of Pope Julius II

About the unfinished work of art Michelangelo's Tomb of Pope Julius II, history and description of the piece.

RENOWNED UNFINISHED WORKS FROM THE ARTS TO ARCHITECTURE

2. MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI: TOMB OF POPE JULIUS II (begun 1505)

When Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo, 29, to build his papal tomb, the sculptor designed a two-story monument with a sarcophagus surrounded by bronze reliefs and 40 marble statues. A mountain of marble, quarried hundreds of miles away at Carrara, was transported by boat to Rome. The painter Raphael and his relative, the architect Bramante, envious of the glory this opportunity would bring Michelangelo, persuaded the pope that it was bad luck to prepare a tomb during one's own lifetime. They recommended that Michelangelo paint the huge vaulted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (an impossible task for a sculptor, they thought). Work on the tomb was interrupted for four years while the sculptor completed the greatest single artistic achievement in the history of painting. Although Michelangelo made many attempts to complete the tomb, it remained unfinished at Julius's death, and his successors preempted Michelangelo's time and energy with other assignments. Forty years after beginning his great project, he had completed only a few statues, among them the 10-ft.-high Moses, called the greatest example of Renaissance sculpture. In 1545 Michelangelo, now 69, attempted to fulfill his obligation to Julius by improvising a small tomb, with Moses at the center, in the church of St. Peter in Chains in Rome.

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